#37 - Friends come to Antigua - the sequel!
17 May 2015 | Dehaies, Guadeloupe
Note: This will be our last installment of our blog on Sailblogs. We will be publishing blog #38 using Wordpress. Please visit www.sailingslowwaltz.wordpress.com. Thanks!
After we saw Glenn and Dalia off, we had 48 hours to turnover the boat and prep it for the arrival of Dave and Carolyn!
We met Dave and Carolyn at Skullduggery Cafe in Falmouth Harbour and kicked off the visit with hugs and toasts to great friends with rum punch. Back to the boat with all the luggage, and first mission was to install the replacement fuel lift pump that Dave and Carolyn muled in for us. Just the day before, we had the engine running to charge the batteries and it just up and died. Even I know that that's not supposed to happen. Guillaume opened up the engine compartment and sure enough the fuel lift pump had blue smoke coming out of it and here's why:
I don't think it's supposed to look like a burnt campfire marshmallow. We carry lots of spares, but not that one. Decisions on what spares to carry on board is more art than science, taking into consideration cost, storage and likelihood that you will need it and the consequences of not having it (for example, we carry a full array of spares for our fancy vacu-flush head). Guillaume spent hours on the spares inventory spreadsheet before we left and we have gotten ourselves out of more than a pickle or two since we have had the right spare on board. Anyhow, not in this case, so we placed a call to the only business in Antigua that services Westerbeke engines to learn that they don't stock the part, it has to be shipped from Florida. Yikes, with no engine and guests arriving the next day, we have the day to source a part from Canada to be lovingly transported by our visiting friends the next morning! However, two complicating factors - one, it's a statutory holiday in Toronto, and two, there is an epic snowstorm in progress with shutdowns and all (we also had all fingers crossed that Dave and Carolyn's flight would leave the next morning). So we pulled out our rolodex and with our fingers crossed, sent an email to the parts guy at Bristol Marine in Mississauga and explained the situation. We had a response within 20 minutes, he had one--yes--one, in stock and the store was open for business. Dave grabbed the part on his way home from work. Whew! Dave and Guillaume swiftly installed the part thus providing a true taste of the cruising life, boat repairs in exotic places.
Anyways, enough about spares and engine repairs. Off to hike and explore English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard and oogle megayachts.
We also had the chance to admire an Oyster or two during the week.
We even oogled boats at night.
We had a lovely dinner at the iconic Pillars Restaurant in Nelson Dockyard (mmm lobster risotto).
Then we took a hike up to Shirley Heights to take in the famous view of English and Falmouth Harbours.
From there it was a sunny sail over to Jolly Harbour for a change of scenery.
Dropped the hook in the bay and take in the new scenery.
Sort out the shells collected on the beach.
Don't forget breakfasts (compliments of Dave Rumble, AKA Mr. Breakfast)
And dinghy rides...
And, of course, naps...
A fabulous visit with dear friends! Thanks so much for coming! We miss you already!
Note: This will be our last installment of our blog on Sailblogs. We will be publishing blog #38 using Wordpress. Please visit www.sailingslowwaltz.wordpress.com. Thanks!
#36 - Friends come to Antigua
11 May 2015 | Nevis, WI
We picked up Glenn and Dalia in Jolly Harbour Antigua for their 1 week stay on board at the end of January, 2015. As always, it is nice to see smiling faces from back home, especially such great friends.
We spent a couple of nights in Jolly Harbour, where we did some hiking, swimming and walked along Jolly Beach.
A toast with a Wadadli Beer, the official beer of Antigua! (that's bottled in St. Vincent)
A view of the outer harbour at Jolly Harbour
Lot's of beachcombing on Jolly Beach!
And look what we saw at the dock in Jolly Harbour..
A Bayfield 29, all decked out for cruising
We then weighed anchor and headed up for a very short but brisk sail to Deep Bay.
After we dropped the hook, we hiked up the north point, where there are some ruins and a great view of the bay.
When we got to the end of the spit, there is a gap and then another island. We decided to wade across and check it out.
You can see the three cruise ships in St. John
Later, Dalia and I hopped in the dinghy to go and snorkel the Andes wreck. She's a three masted merchant schooner ship that is sitting in about 30 feet of water and nicely growing soft corals and a home for reef fish.
We headed back to Jolly Harbour later that afternoon, since we had a table reserved at pizza night at Al Porto's Italian Restaurant in the Harbour.
That was the leftovers, which made for an easy snack the next day!
Next stop was Falmouth Harbour at the south end of the island. The Antigua Superyacht Challenge was coming up, so we wanted to see us some crazy big sailboats! And boy did we!
Watching the Megayachts come in to dock after a race, with friends and fellow yachties, Sue and Mal from Kool Kat who joined us
I enjoy the décor on this boat! I daresay it is owned by a woman.
How many millions in megayachts do you think are captured in this frame?
And this guys was dangling from the top of the mast the whole time.
And last but not least, was the visit to Springhill Stables in Falmouth, where Dalia and Glenn did some horseback riding.
Part of their excursion included bareback riding in the sea. I courageously volunteered to take Glenn's spot for this portion when he decided he had had enough time in the saddle.
That was the end of our wonderful visit with our great friends, Glenn and Dalia. Thanks for coming guys! It was awesome to have you! Come back soon!
#35 - Cruising up the Windwards and Leewards
25 March 2015 | BVI's
So what have we been up to in the last few months? We left Grenada in late November with plans to spend Christmas in Antigua. A lot of people were heading there, so we did too. On the way north, we stopped in Martinique and spent a couple of weeks transiting up the West coast. Martinique is a “department” of France, so it is pretty much Europe in the Caribbean. They speak French, use the Euro and the grocery stores feature wonderful little products of France at really good prices. We went a little crazy stocking little meats and cheeses and copious amounts of wine. The snorkelling, according to our friends, was excellent but I was not able to partake since I was plagued with successive earaches in both ears for about a month. We visited four lovely little seaside towns with beautiful harbours for anchoring: St. Anne’s, Anse d’Arlet, Anse Mitan, and St. Pierre. With its stunning view of the volcano from the anchorage, great fresh market, and the TO-DIE-FOR rotisserie chicken, I think my favorite was St. Pierre. Anse d’Arlet, with its crystal clear water was probably my second favourite.
We left Martinique for Antigua via Dominica and Guadeloupe with a few days to spare before Christmas. Spent a couple of days in Deshaies, a lovely, small village on the northwest corner of Guadeloupe (another department of France). While we were there, there was an earthquake (!) measuring 5.8 on Guadeloupe a mere 5 miles from where we were anchored. We did notice a series of waves that moved the boat a little more than normal rolling, but thought nothing of it, because that happens from time to time. We also visited the stunning Botanical Gardens:
Next stop Antigua, where we stayed for a total of 7 weeks. After a glorious Christmas (eve) Dinner on board Serenade with Nightwatch, we spent Christmas Day in the historic Nelson’s Dockyard at the Champagne party.
We drank champagne and ogled the opulent power and sail mega yachts. Between Christmas and NYE we hiked up to Shirley Heights with its famous view overlooking English Harbour to take in the Sunday afternoon sunset party.
New Year’s Eve we went to Nightwatch for cocktail hour and then danced and sang on board Nahanni River until the wee hours taking in the fireworks on the foredeck of Nahanni River with great friends (who are fabulous singers and dancers) and pink champagne.
After the holidays were over, many boats dispersed and with most heading north to the BVI’s. We had our friends Glenn and Dalia arriving late January to spend the week with us on board in Antigua, with Dave and Carolyn arriving the week after. In the meantime, we had some time to kill before they arrived, so we set about exploring other parts of Antigua. Luckily, Sue and Malcolm, our Aussie friends from Kool Kat, had a similar guest schedule, and were also hanging around Antigua. Together we headed to the north part of the island and anchored off of Long Island in Jumby Bay, a very exclusive and private resort island in a beautiful bay (with wickedly good wifi).
From Jumby we saw a weather window that worked for us to head to the illusive and beautiful island of Barbuda. It is 30 nm due north from Antigua and has very little protection from waves, particularly northerly swells, so it can be tricky to get a good and long enough window to travel to and from and be on the hook. In a northerly swell, it is not possible to land your dinghy on the beach due to crashing waves (there are no dinghy docks). We got what looked like a perfect weather window and headed up with Kool Kat. We had one of our most memorable sails in a long time. Broad reach in 20 knots, definitely a sweet spot for Slow Waltz.
We arrived in Low Bay on the West side of the island near the main settlement of Codrington. Low Bay features an 11 mile pristine beach with no development (only two buildings on the whole thing). You might see 5 or 6 other people walking along the whole beach and nary a beach chair nor umbrella in sight, truly unspoiled and difficult to describe or capture in a photograph.
We took in the settlement of Codrington and rented bikes and rode to the other side of the island, and climbed the lofty peak to the highest point at a whopping 125 feet above sea level. Next we did the frigate bird tour. Barbuda lays claim to the largest nesting area for these birds in the Eastern Caribbean. We were in a large skiff and paddled by the mangrove bushes that were covered in adult pairs with their newly hatched young.
After a couple of nights in Low Bay we left for the south end of the island and dropped the hook off Coco Point. The beach on the south side is similar, except it has a couple of resorts, one, a small tasteful boutique resort, and the second one, currently abandoned, the former K Club, but apparently has just been optioned by Robert de Niro and some Australian billionaire who are planning to put in $250M to develop the abandoned site. Not sure if a $250M splashy resort is the right fit for Barbuda. Hopefully they get it right and the unspoilt doesn’t become spoilt.
We headed back to Antigua to get the boat spiffied up and restocked for company!
#34 - Ten things I love about Grenada
25 November 2014 | Hog Island, Grenada
Hurricane season has ended now and we are spending our last few days in Grenada waiting for a weather window to make a dash north “up island”. My mom and dad departed from Grenada yesterday after a wonderful one week visit. We had a fantastic week with them, very relaxing and it was great to see them. We did a full day island tour with Cutty, visited Grand Anse beach, hung out and played a lot of dominos and wizard, and surprisingly to anyone who knows my family, not that much Kaiser.
We are readying the boat now to return to the status of a navigable vessel, rather than a static Grenadian water installation that has been growing its own reef system. Bottom scrubbing, route planning, stowing for passage, prepping food for a possible overnite passage have been the activities of the day. Our plan as it stands now (and as always subject to change) is to take a weather window on Thursday and make one overnite passage all the way to Le Marin, Martinique, approximately 155 nm, of course we have fallback possibilities if the sea state does not cooperate, Bequia, St. Lucia. We are trying to stay ahead of, or manage if it becomes necessary, the Christmas winds which can descend anytime from November to January and consist of persistent north east winds in the 30 knot range and can sock you in wherever you are and you may not be able to move (or certainly not move north) until they decide to let you.
All told we have spent over 5 months here in Grenada, less the three week trip home. It is a wonderful island with a lot to offer, so to that end, the 10 things I love about Grenada, in no particular order, are:
1) Rain forest hikes – We have done a whole lot of hiking since we arrived here, to Mount Qua Qua in Grand Etang National Park, around the crater lake, to Concord Falls, to Seven Sisters, to Mount Carmel. We have swam under 4 sets of waterfalls and completed the notable hike of Mount Qua Qua to Concord falls which was 2 hours up the ridge of Qua Qua and three hours down the back (pretty steep in parts) to Concord falls.
2) Fresh produce and spices – We have been introduced to many types of fruits and vegetables that we have never tried or never even heard of, like soursop, sugar apples, sun lemons and 10 different types of mangos. We attended a cooking class and learned to make Tumeric Chicken, I also used the recipe to make Tumeric Goat with local meat from the island.
3) The morning cruisers net – from Monday to Saturday at 0730 on VHF channel 66i there is an organized “net” that is run on the VHF radio. It runs for about 30 minutes and runs down weather, cruiser socials, help wanted, buy/sell and local businesses. It’s nice to be in the loop on all that stuff in an organized fashion. Of course, at times it’s controversial with inappropriate stuff being said and type A’s butting heads, but that’s just entertaining and I for one am very appreciative that people give their time for the net to exist.
4) Grenadian Hash House Harriers – The local HHH chapter holds a “hash” every Saturday somewhere on the island. You pile onto a local bus with shoes you are prepared to go ankle deep in mud with and set off on a trail that has been set by one of the HHH members (called Hares) with 100 to 300 fellow hashers. You hike through villages, gardens, forests, rivers, private property, people’s yards on a trail of shredded paper, with some false trails along the way to attempt to lead you off the real trail in which case you call out in the vernacular of the HHH to attempt to find the real trail (“Are you?” “On On?” “On Back!”). After you have made your way back, you are rewarded with dirt cheap food and drink and music, beer is 3 for $10EC (which is $4CAD). Attending Hashes has been a great way to see many different parts of the island.
5) Dinghy Concerts – We attended 2 dinghy concerts during our time in Grenada. Everyone goes when there is a dinghy concert. They are held on Sunday afternoons. Everyone jumps in their dinghies and loads up a cooler with drinkies and snacks and we tie ‘em all off together and take in the live music for about an hour. Everyone passes around their snacks, and if you want a beer from the bar, you pass your money forward from dinghy to dinghy and the beers get relayed back, all the way back if necessary. If it gets too hot in the sun, just jump in the water.
6) Dominos on Rogers Beach with friends – We passed many a Sunday afternoon on the beach picnic tables with a couple of sets of dominos and some hard core dominos being played. Afterwards we take a dip in the water to cool off.
7) Just hanging out with friends – We have made so many great friends who we met along the way or we met here in Grenada after we arrived. There is always someone to plan a hike with, play cards with, have a few sundowners with, or partake in any other of the offerings of “Camp Grenada”.
8) Jazz and Poetry Nites at the Grenada History Museum – on the first Friday of every month, there is a Jazz and Poetry night held. It features musicians, both local and from cruising boats that get together and jam. It is very different every time with different musicians playing and always provided a great night out.
9) The local bus system – The bus system in Grenada works very well and is easy to use. “Buses” are simply vans that seat about 18 “comfortably” (I use that word loosely). The owner gets a license and gets assigned a route and that’s about as organized as it gets. There are no (well not many) bus stops, you just flag them down, but they will probably stop and ask you anyways, since they are hungry for fares. And the fare is $2.50EC, which is a buck. They will offer to take you off their route for a little extra. If you want to get up into the rain forest in the center of the island, you can take the bus into St. Georges to the main terminal, then hop the #6 bus to Grand Etang for $5EC ($2CAD). We have made ample use the bus system here!
10) Scuba diving – Guillaume and I took our PADI open water certification with Dive Grenada. It was spectacular, I would do it again tomorrow if I could, even the written exam. We did 4 dives as part of our certification, which included the underwater sculpture park. It was Guillaume’s first time diving and my second time.
So that in a nutshell was some of the best of what we took in during our time here. It feels kind of weird to be poised to leave here and resume the more transient life, where we spend a few days or a week or two here and there, but we are both looking forward to the change and to be moving again.
#33 - The Liebster Award
13 September 2014 | Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada
Gwen and Guillaume
The Liebster Award…. Sounds prestigious, doesn’t it? Well, not so much, but it is a cool idea that someone started where new bloggers nominate each other to answer each other’s questions. Makes for some interesting reading and sharing of experiences.
It is basically is a chain letter (I usually completely ignore those, but this one actually offers some benefits) where you answer questions posed by your nominator, then post your own set of new questions to your new nominees.
We were nominated by Alex and Dave of the blog Sailing Banyan (they really enjoy nominating us for things, AHEM!) and thank you and we accept, so here goes (good questions, by the way, Alex!).
(1) Where in the World are you? Alternatively, where would you like to travel to?
Guillaume is in the cockpit, and I am down below. Haha. We are anchored near Secret Harbour Marina in Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada. We have been in Grenada for just over 3 months now, but in Mount Hartman for two weeks now. We are looking forward to getting moving again after hurricane season.
(2) Describe the funniest thing you've witnessed in your travels to date?
When we were in the BVI’s we saw an island dog chasing a hen. When the dog got bored and stopped chasing, the hen turned and gave chase back to the dog, the dog took off scared. You really had to see it. It’s not funny when I type it.
(3) Describe your favourite cruising grounds in your travels to date?
We would have to say the Exumas. It was our first “cruising ground” per se and we had heard so much about it and it really held up to all the promises. It was where I (Gwen) really sunk my teeth into snorkelling. We miss the Bahamas, but will only see them when we are on our way back to Canada, because they are a long way north and west of us.
(4) This Sailing Lifestyle has obviously been a dream turned reality for all of us out here doing this. But if you could have another dream, another "thing" you would want to do... what would it be?
Gwen - I have discovered my love for sea life. If I was to undertake a new dream, it would be to volunteer on some type of Jacques Cousteau marine mission to snorkel and dive and study sharks, dolphins or whales.
Guillaume – The cruising life has met and exceeded my expectations and we have only just started. I can’t really come up with anything else that would be as satisfying.
(5) If there's one thing you brought with you cruising, that is totally useless and you could take off your boat, what would it be? Alternatively, if there's one thing you didn't bring with you, and wish you had, what is it?
The spinnaker takes up a lot of storage space and it has only been brought out once when we were crossing Albermarle Sound in North Carolina, but the trip’s not over yet, and we hope to use it more in the coming season.
(6) In this world of So Many Blog's, have you followed a Blogger and not yet met them? Who would you most like to meet?
We followed a lot of blogs before we left (including Alex and Dave of Sailing Banyan, who are now great friends! totally cool!). We have communicated with Paul and Sheryl Shard online, but never had the pleasure of meeting them. We watched a lot of their shows. It would be great to meet them.
(7) What time of day do you enjoy the most and why?
Gwen - The sunny part, clouds make me sad.
Guillaume – Sunset, because it usually includes getting together with other cruisers.
(8) When we set sail, and told our friends and family of our plans, we received some pretty incredible (and also incredulous) responses. Have you? Describe the one that impressed/shocked you the most?
We got 4 distinct types of responses: 1) The “atta boy”, follow your dream, way to go, would love to do something similar; 2) Aren’t you scared – pirates, sea storms etc.; 3) How are you pulling this off financially, and 4) You guys must really get along.
We were surprised at how many people expressed a desire to do something similar. #3 shocked us the most, but we got used to it. It’s a hard adventure/way of life to describe (especially when you haven’t even left yet and experienced it first hand).
(9) With this travelling lifestyle we get exposed to wide variety of cuisines. Do you enjoy trying, eating, cooking with "local" foods, and if so, what is your favourite so far? Share your recipe ??
Gwen – There is a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables and spices here on Grenada and elsewhere in the islands (although, Grenada is the spice island). We eat fresh food almost everyday, which we are totally enjoying. We have seen very elaborate fruits and vegetables that we have never even heard of, and we have tried a “few” of them, but certainly not all. I am pretty sure, that I won’t be missing dasheen or breadfruit when we leave the islands. We attended one cooking class and made turmeric chicken, which I now make regularly. I even made it with fresh goat meat once. It was yummy. I have included the recipe below.
Guillaume – I would just add that I also really enjoy sautéed callaloo and I don’t mind bread fruit.
1 lb of chicken thighs*, skinless, boneless, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
2 tbsp oil for frying
2 onions peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic
1 bundle green onion and thyme, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp turmeric powder
4 medium potatoes peeled and chopped into medium chunks
1 large carrot chopped into medium chunks
Heat a deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to heated pan. When oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, green onion and thyme, salt and seasoning peppers. Stir fry until soft and translucent. Add the turmeric powder and stir fry until fragrant.
Add the chicken and stir-fry for about 5 minutes so that the chicken is browned and coated with the turmeric paste. Add potatoes and carrots and sufficient water for them to absorb. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 – 20 minutes, making sure the chicken is cooked. Serve over cooked rice if desired.
* For additional flavour, you can marinade the chicken in “local seasoning”. It is the bottle of green sauce that you can buy in Grenadian supermarkets.
(10) If asked to give a random piece of advice about this lifestyle to anyone, what would it be?
We will steal one piece of advice that we read so many times before we left cruising. If you have plans to go, JUST GO NOW. You can spend the rest of your life getting ready, and it might be too late. Second piece of advice, don’t be afraid to change your life.
The next part of the challenge is where we nominate other new cruising blogs to join the challenge and pose our questions, and so without further ado, the nominees are:
S/V C’Sta Time
The nominees are required (if they choose to accept the challenge) to create a blog that includes the answers to the following questions:
1) What do you miss the most about back home or life on land?
2) What is the funniest/most favorite boat name that you have encountered since you started cruising?
3) What has been your favorite stop/island since you left home?
4) What is the one thing that you would change about your boat if money was no object?
5) What is the one thing that you would add your boat if space was no object?
6) When were you struck with the cruising dream AND how long did it take to get from the dream to the reality of leaving the dock?
7) What made you finally decide to leave when you did?
8) What one piece of advice would you give to someone with the dream to cruise?
9) What is your favorite sailing/cruising song?
10) Where are you planning to spend Christmas?
We look forward to reading our friends responses to keep the chain going!
#32 - Home Sweet Home
03 September 2014 | Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada
Gwen & Guillaume
I have fallen a little behind (ok, more than a little) on blogging. In the last blog, I wrote about our time in St. Martin, and we are now through the Leeward and Windward islands and have been in Grenada for a while. I will write about the Leewards and Windwards when we return to those islands after hurricane season. Grenada is where we are spending hurricane season (June 1 – November 1) because it is south of 12 degrees latitude and therefore “statistically” safe from hurricanes. I say statistically because it was hit once in the 1950’s and then again in 2004 and 2005, needless to say we keep a vigilant watch of the weather.
Slow Waltz is currently sitting on the South end of Grenada in Mount Hartman Bay on the hook (180 feet of chain in about 27 feet of depth) with about 60 other boats. We returned to the south end of the island after being in Port Louie Marina, St. George’s for the month of August. We had to find a dock to tie her to, because we were leaving her unattended to fly to Canada for a visit. We flew into Toronto and had an awesome, whirlwind visit with many friends, but as always, the time is shorter than you think. Many thanks to amazing friends for the good times, loaner cars, places to sleep including cottages, and delicious meals. It was very heartwarming to feel so welcomed and we were so happy to see friends and family after a year away. As Guillaume and I have said many times, the only thing we miss about life on land in Canada is family and friends. As we had occasion to catch up with friends, a lot of questions were asked of us, some really hard questions. Here are a few:
What is your favorite island
This is a really hard question. The islands of the Eastern Caribbean are very diverse. We have now travelled through the Eastern Caribbean chain (although we didn’t visit every island). We started with the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgins, US Virgins, British Virgins, St. Martin, Leewards, Windwards and Grenada. We went through the Windwards and Leewards quickly and since it was getting to be mid June and we felt it was time to be south of 12 since hurricane season had officially started. French Islands feature all things French, baguettes, wine and pastries in addition to rain forests and beaches. Bahamas has gin clear water and white sand, but not much in the way of hiking. All the Virgins are beautiful and so close together for easy day sails from one to the next. The easy favorite for now is Grenada, because we have been here for three months and know it really well. Grenada has so much to offer and there is comfort in familiarity. After hurricane season we will have more time to spend in some of the Windwards and Leewards and a new favorite may emerge.
What has been your scariest moment
Running aground on a falling tide in the ICW was a scary moment, because a boat can be lost that way. I still remember the sensation of feeling the keel ride up a sand shoal and slumping 20 degrees to port. We have also experienced some “squally” weather bouts where the wind can spike up suddenly, say to 35-40 knots in our experience. It’s always better to be proactive about reducing sail so you are prepared (for the non-sailors, too much wind and too much sail out will result in the boat being overpowered and possibly very difficult to control). Our rule is as soon as you talk about reducing sail, you reduce sail. Other nerve-wracking moments come to mind, when we were on the north shore of DR and the depth sounder was reading 30 feet and dropping, but the charts were indicating over 100 feet, cause to be concerned that you aren’t where you think you are on the charts. We turned sharply and headed farther offshore. Knowing where you are when running on a leeshore at night is very comforting.
What has been the biggest surprise
In the approximate 4,000 miles that we have travelled from Lake Ontario to Grenada, we estimate that about 10% was purely under sail (motor off). This was somewhat of a surprise. However, next sailing season we will be cruising up and down the Windwards and Leewards and expect to do a lot of sailing.
Has the experience met your expectations/any regrets
Met and far exceeded, and no regrets whatsoever. We have thoroughly enjoyed our first year. We know we escaped a nasty winter. It’s not necessarily an easy life, but the rewards are frequent and plentiful. Each day is different, yet we wake up in our own home, on the boat. We love the variety.
How does it feel to be back home (Canada)
It felt comfortable, familiar and friendly, but frankly, not quite like home, since we knew we were leaving and we didn’t really have a routine. It was like an awesome Christmas vacation, but with nicer weather (sort of nicer). We spent a lot of time at the marina, it was kind of weird to be there and not have a boat there.
Is Guillaume eating fish yet
Funnily enough, this was the MOST asked question. The answer is no. He has eaten fish a time or two and managed to enjoy it, but still far prefers land critters on his plate. Hence, no fishing has or will take place on Slow Waltz.
Has the experience changed you
How can the answer to this question be no? Our life this past year has included, among other things, hauling water in jerry jugs, night passages under the moon and stars, diving the boat bottom to scrape off barnacles, snorkelling crystal clear waters full of sea creatures, repairing boat breakdowns, hiking rain forests, engine oil changes and maintenance, hauling laundry in the dinghy, beautiful sunsets over the ocean, 45 minute walks to get provisions (we could take the bus), sundowners on buddy boats, riding around in small, stuffy vans packed with 15 other cruisers. That’s just the chores list and fun list. Then there is the very dynamic nature of being on a cruising boat on the move and having to make decisions, sometimes quickly based on some factors that you have no control over. The consequences of unfortunate decisions could be extreme. We only have ourselves and each other to rely on for our safety and the safety of the boat. It’s a big blue ocean and when you are out there at night and all you can see are the lights of buddy boats (and sometimes all you see is black) you feel really, really insignificant. We rely on each other heavily and trust each other completely to keep us and the boat safe.
Then there is the whole matter of living amongst different cultures sometimes with developing economies. Islands can often be impoverished with little employment or opportunities. It is a stark contrast to the consumerism and consumption habits of North America which makes us grateful for the opportunities that we have been able to take advantage of. We think that visiting all these places has made us more aware of how other cultures live. We have learned to respectfully blend in (as best we can) and go with the flow.
The most overwhelming sense that we have felt since we left the dock, nearly one year ago is a sense of FREEDOM. Freedom to explore and travel, meet new people and see places, cultures and nature on land and in the sea. From dolphins, sharks, whales and turtles to coral reefs, rain forests, rivers and rocks, taking it all in on long hikes and slow passages without much need for a wristwatch or calendar has been very peaceful, eye opening, educational and enjoyable. All this on top of living with our finger on the pulse of the weather which, when it permits us, we can pick up and move from one island to the next.
So in short, living this life with 2 people on a 40 foot boat is definitely changing us.
When we got on our flight to return to Grenada, we were excited to get “home sweet home”. It felt that way for both of us. It was bittersweet, though. We had just said so many good byes to our friends and family and it will be a while before we see them again (although, there are trips to be planned :). As for family, who we didn’t get to see since they are spread across Canada and in France, we very much look forward to visits to Slow Waltz!
Stay tuned for our next installment on life at Camp Grenada.